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Acuña's walk-off hit 'fitting ending' vs. Fish 

All-Star posts 1.103 OPS as Braves finish 15-4 vs. Miami in 2019
@mlbbowman
August 23, 2019

ATLANTA -- Given the tremendous success Ronald Acuña Jr. has had against the Marlins, this seemed to be a fitting finish to his season against them. But the Braves' outfielder thought there actually might have been a better way to say goodbye. “I definitely think it was an appropriate way

ATLANTA -- Given the tremendous success Ronald Acuña Jr. has had against the Marlins, this seemed to be a fitting finish to his season against them. But the Braves' outfielder thought there actually might have been a better way to say goodbye.

“I definitely think it was an appropriate way and a fitting ending to the way we played the Marlins,” Acuna said through an interpreter. “But I would have much rather hit a home run against them.”

When you’ve homered once every eight at-bats against an opponent over an entire season, there is reason to be a little greedy. But Acuna was more than satisfied to deliver the walk-off single that preserved Mike Soroka's strong start and gave the Braves a 3-2 win over the Marlins on Thursday night at SunTrust Park.

Box score

“Acuna has had a really unbelievable year against that one club, that’s for sure,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said after his team exited this three-game series sweep with a six-game lead in the National League East.

Acuna ended up batting .319 (23-for-72) with nine homers and 1.103 OPS while the Braves went 15-4 against the Marlins this year. This marks the 10th time in franchise history and first since Andruw Jones against the Expos in 2004 that a player hit at least nine homers in less than 75 at-bats against an opponent in one season.

This stands as the 46th time in franchise history a player has produced a 1.100 OPS or higher with at least 80 plate appearances against a team in a season. The most recent occasions occurred last year, when Freddie Freeman manufactured a 1.167 OPS against the Marlins and Acuna began his mastery of Miami’s pitching staff with a 1.129 OPS.

So Acuna has a 1.120 OPS over 169 plate appearances against the Marlins dating back to his debut in 2018. Entering Thursday, the only other two players who had produced a 1.100 OPS or better with at least 160 plate appearances against a club within this span were Mike Trout (1.422 vs. Mariners) and Freeman (1.113 vs. Marlins).

“It’s dominance,” Soroka said. “It’s simple. He came to play every single day. I don’t know if that had anything to do with last year [when he was hit by a Jose Urena pitch]. He does it against all teams. But what he did against them, I think it put them in a situation where when they get him up to the plate, I think everybody knows he’s got a good chance to do some damage.”

Freeman’s game-tying solo homer off Ryne Stanek sparked a stagnant, injury-depleted Braves offense and ensured Soroka would not suffer a tough-luck loss on a night when he scattered a pair of singles through six innings and then surrendered three straight hits, including Starlin Castro’s go-ahead double, to begin the seventh.

Soroka limited the Marlins to three earned runs over 29 innings this year. His bid to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award garnered by Acuna in 2018 is highlighted by his 2.41 ERA, which ties him with Washington's Max Scherzer for MLB’s second-best mark.

After Soroka allowed two earned runs or fewer across at least seven innings for the eighth time this season, Adeiny Hechavarria extended the success he has had since being signed last Friday. The veteran shortstop -- and former Marlin -- singled in a run in the second and then began the ninth with a double. He trotted home with the winning run when Acuna drilled Stanek’s 2-2 splitter into the left-center-field gap.

“It doesn’t matter against what team or what pitcher, I want [Acuna] at the plate,” Soroka said. “He did what he can do. He got his pitch to hit and didn’t miss.”

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.